07:47 AM

UST Receives Prestigious US Dept. of ED MSEIP Grant

Dr. Javoris HollingsworthUniversity of St. Thomas Houston has received a prestigious three-year $750,000 grant from the US Department of Education to increase the number of minority graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

University of St. Thomas, designated a minority-serving institution, has a diverse student population with minority enrollments that exceed 50 percent of total enrollment.

The grant project director and co-director are University of St. Thomas Assistant Professor in Chemistry, Dr. Javoris Hollingsworth and Associate Professor and Chair, Physics and Engineering, Dr. Birgit Mellis, respectively.

UST Plans to Offer Impactful Services to more than 845 Students

The award is from the US Department of Education's Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP), supporting and expanding the scientific and technological capacity of the United States to build global competitiveness by increasing the number of minority graduates STEM fields.

Over the course of the grant, more than 845 students will receive impactful services as a result of the grant,” Hollingsworth said.

“As someone who has persevered many of the same adversities of these students, I know this funding is especially important for those who may come from low-income households,” Hollingsworth said. “By removing these obstacles and providing the necessary resources, I truly believe that more of our students will successfully complete their studies and also gain valuable skills that will prepare them well for careers in STEM.“ 

“On a broader level, by ensuring their completion of STEM degrees, the program will contribute to the advancement of diversity in both the national and local workforce, helping to address a major need,” Hollingsworth said.

Grant Provides Three Key Services

Over the life of the grant, UST staff and faculty will implement three key services:

  1. Special coaching and advising services and wrap-around support to underrepresented students in STEM to increase their retention and graduation rates that includes mentoring and tutoring.

“A benefit for the students is that they will receive a special coaching and advising consultant who will work closely with them during their first two years at UST; this particular period is when most student attrition is observed,” Hollingsworth said. “The consultant will be responsible for providing intense, wrap-around support to underrepresented students in STEM to increase their retention and graduation rates. This will include personalized tutoring, as well as mentoring.”

  1. Courses will be created and piloted for math for engineering and math for chemistry.

“We will redesign and deliver specialized math courses that will increase student success in entry level chemistry and engineering courses,” Hollingsworth said. “Through this effort, less students will fail these and other core STEM courses, which will save them significant tuition dollars by reducing their need for repeating.” 

  1. UST students will also participate in hands-on research with students from the STEM Bridges nonprofit program, UST’s partner on this grant. STEM Bridges serves female, underrepresented students interested in pursuing STEM studies and careers.

“The planned research activities will occur during the academic year and summer,” Hollingsworth said. “For their participation in research, the students will receive additional support in the form of research stipends. This will help prevent their need for taking on outside work that leads to time constraints and barriers to their participation and success in STEM,” he said.

Paying it forward: Hollingworth’s Awards for Advancing Diversity

Hollingsworth, currently serves as an assistant professor and director for the Master of Science in Industrial and Process Chemistry (MSIPC) program at UST. He is also the Area Coordinator for the ACS Greater Houston Section (ACS-GHS) Project SEED program, which provides a summer research experience to economically disadvantaged high school students in Houston and surrounding areas.

For these and other efforts, Hollingsworth was recently awarded the ACS Stanley C. Israel Regional Award for Advancing Diversity in the Chemical Sciences. He also received the Mentor on the Map Award from the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers.

“I am proud to take on the role as director for the MSEIP program because it gives me the opportunity to pay it forward to the next generation of underrepresented students in STEM,” Hollingsworth said.

A Place of Knowing: Hollingsworth, first-gen student, Bill Gates Scholar

“Throughout my life, I have benefited greatly from similar programs. For instance, I participated in the ACS Project SEED program when I attended high school. That was my first experience inside a laboratory and on a college campus. As a first-generation college student, this exposure was inspirational and eye-opening. With support from the Bill Gates scholarship, I attended Georgia Southern University where I participated in the Ronald E. McNair program; this program is designed to prepare undergraduate students for graduate programs.”